Day 1 of Worlds!

Breaking news! Local robotics team figures out that foam tiles at worlds are very grippy.

Today, was check in and inspection day, we’re getting the robot all set and ready for competing at the event. Teams are filling up the lobby, lining up for inspection and talking among their fellow teams. All are exited about the competition, eager to get their robots on the practice fields to show off to other teams. Here we are, Free Range Robotics, at the world championships again, finding all our friends from New Zealand and telling them about our trip to Kentucky and showing off our brand new robot to them. We’re relieved that our robot made it to Kentucky safely after hearing about how some other NZ teams had their robots broken when the airport security opened up their boxes to inspect their robots. There were teams with bent intakes, and others with their whole wheels bent inwards.

Check in is what you would expect, waiting in line, checking in the team, getting your welcome kit, etc. After that, we got to go into the pits, to find that we were again, placed next to our friends from NZ! We got set up, plugged in batteries, hung up all of our NZ flags and making our pit presentable to the judges and other teams as they walked past. We had a scheduled inspection this time, which meant we could just walk in at our designated time, without having to wait in line at all. This was a nice change, because in previous years we would waste hours, standing around as the line slowly moved along the massive expo center. As always, Inspection went smoothly for us, we walked in, got our robot sized, then we were asked questions about our robot. At the end of the inspection process, we had a great time talking to the guy that inspected our robot, he was a really cool guy, who also happened to be the tech guy in our division.

As soon as possible, we rushed to the practice fields to get our robot and code tested, but we soon figured out that we had some problems to deal with. We drove the robot around for the first time on a field in America, and we figured out that the robot couldn’t shoot two flags at once anymore! This scared us, because back when we were in NZ, we spent hours, if not days tuning the robot so that it could double shoot. We were bamboozled. It took us ages to figure out what was wrong with it, but in the end we remembered that back in NZ, we had run out of rubber bands. This meant our flywheel bands wore out and caused the ball to slip when getting launched. Our temporary fix for this was to speed up the flywheel to compensate for the slip, which helped, but was going to be fixed once we got new bands in America. We had already ordered the new rubber bands from Amazon, and put them on the flywheel, but we completely forgot to turn back down the flywheel speed. Once we did this, the double shot was fixed! We could again shoot 2 flags in the mater of 100 milliseconds.

After this endeavour, we decided to check on our autonomous routines, but we soon figured out that the change to USA fields had ruined our auton routines far more than we thought they would. The robot would lose it’s bearings after a few seconds and start aimlessly driving around the field with no understanding of where it was. It took us a while to figure out what this issue was, but in the end, it turned out to be the fact that at the World Championships, they have brand new field tiles, and also put anti static spray on them. This gave the sensor wheels on the robot more grip, which in some cases is good, but actually caused our autonomous to break. In NZ we noticed that the robot was inconsistently scoring caps in the wrong place, which then led us to tuning the robot so that it would compensate for this. This was actually quite easy to fix, because all we had to do was re tune the autonomous to work on a more consistent field.

In conclusion, the day was pretty scary, figuring out that there are some really good teams in our division is making us think about new strategy’s so that we can beat them, and place high in our division. We’re relieved that the robot issues are all fixed, and won’t have to worry about them until we find another one to fix later on :(. We’re eager to start matches now, to find our strengths and weaknesses, and also to show em what we are!

Worlds 2019

we are back, we are currently in Louisville preparing for the world championships later this week, all is going well, the equipment arrived in one piece, so did the team luckily. will post more this week ūüôā


Official Photographs

I couldn’t find a single picture with the whole of Free Range in it ūüė¶ Not even the official photograph of the team getting their trophy.

Here are a few of my favourites, including the photos I did find of the various Kiwi teams in action.


and my favourite 3 are

The missing match Q173

Finally managed to get the video of our qualifying match with The Hawaiian Kids during which we scored our largest win of the year 141 points!!!

Very early in the match our robot froze and my heart stopped, then it got going again, then stopped, then got going again then, well you get the picture. I found out later that one of the battery clips had come loose and was rubbing into a wheel, which meant a lot more friction and was causing the motor to overheat.

The Knockout Stage

At the end of the 240 qualification matches, the top-seeded teams pick their alliance partners, and these 16 alliances then battle it out in sudden death matches to reach the final to determine the divisional champion.

Free Range qualified in 11th seed and picked team 8059Z aka “Blank” from Singapore as their alliance partner.

Last 16 match 8 –¬†

This was a really solid win for Free Range Рour autonomous routine delivered the bonus points and both Blank and Free Range got down to the business of out-stacking the competition. With 10 seconds to go Blank almost topple over when placing their stack in the 10 points zone, but they recovered and we finished with a 30 points lead over our opponents.

Final Score – 125 to 95

A very convincing win that moves us into the quarterfinals.

quarter finals

Quarterfinals¬†Match 4 –¬†

Our autonomous routine doesn’t quite work, and our opponents score 2 in the 20 points zone getting them the bonus points.

Early on in the match one of the robots on the opposing side dies and can’t move. Both Blank and Free Range get cracking on building stack after stack winning every other available high stack bonus.

This was a massive win for us 139 to 54 and we move onto the semifinals.

semi finals

Semifinals¬†Match 2 –¬†

Our opponents almost had a disaster – they remembered at the very last second to plug in the power expander on their robot. If they hadn’t caught that then they would have been dead in the water.

We miss our autonomous routine for the 2nd match in a row but we focus on stacking and scoring big stacks. Throughout the match, it felt like the teams were evenly matched  but we outscored them by 31 points winning 139 to 109

We can hardly believe it – we’ve made it through to the divisional finals!!!!


The Final –¬†

In previous years this would have been the best of 3, however, this year the final is a one-match, winner takes all, sudden death battle for gold.

Canada + China versus New Zealand + Singapore

As the announcer called out, Free Range & Blank is the Cinderella story Рupsetting 3 higher seeded alliances to reach the final.

Simply put though, 5225A and 8825S are a stunning alliance. 5225A were crowned the World Skills champions earlier in the week and they’ve had a 100% win record throughout the competition. After this, they go on to win the title of World Champions without conceding a single defeat during the whole competition. A remarkable achievement.

The final score 134 to 83

Free Range were beaten but we felt as though we’d won. We progressed further in the tournament than we had expected, we got to the final, we brought home a trophy. Whoohooo!!!!


Our last 2 qualification matches

Here are our last 2 matches in the qualification stage of the competition


This is a big match – our opponents 5225A won the Worlds Skills Challenge the previous day, and they’ve won all their matches so far in the qualification stages.

We won by scoring 2 cones in the 20 point zone, while our alliance partner ran a disrupt routine preventing 5225A from scoring.

Our opponents then went to catch-up on scored cones whilst also running a defensive strategy that really slowed our scoring down. Eventually, we lose by 10 points 92 to 102.

This puts us on 7 wins 2 losses with 1 more match to play.


This is our 10th and final qualification match and if we lose then we finish on 7 wins and 3 losses and fall away from the leading group, but winning puts us on 8-2 and in a hopefully strong position for the knock out phase.

Both ourselves and our alliance partners did a clinical job of building multiple stacks and cleanly dropping them in scoring zones. In the end we had a convincing win of 118 to 68

Qualification Videos from the World Championships – 4 Matches (5/6/7/8)

Before we get into the videos let me quickly explain a few things.

Competition Setup

  • There were 6 divisions of about 94 teams in each.
  • Each team plays 10 qualifying matches then the top teams move into a knockout phase to determine the divisional champions.

Match setup

  • Matches are battled out in a 2 versus 2, red versus blue match. In the qualification stages, your alliance partner is determined by a random draw.


  • There are 4 large mobile goals for each side – you can only carry/manipulate 1 at a time.
  • You can score these by placing them in one of the 3 corner¬†zones – the smallest zone right in the corner gets you 20 points, the next zone gets you 10 points, and the last zone gets you 5 points.
  • You get 2 points for every yellow cone stacked on a mobile goal, or on your tall stationary goal. You can only carry/manipulate 1 yellow cone at a time. Cones stacked on a goal that you are carrying does not count towards this limit.
  • Which every team has the highest stack on their stationary goal gets an additional 5 bonus points, same goes for highest stack in each of the 5, 10, and 20 point zones.
  • The first 15 seconds of the match is the autonomous period in which the robots drive themselves. Which every team scores most points in the autonomous period gets an additional 10 points
  • The next 1 minute 45 seconds is driver¬†control.
  • If you park your robot in your parking zone – identified as a coloured red or blue mat, then you get an additional 2 points.

Free Range is easily identified by the white shirt with the large mechanical chicken on the front. Our robot is easily spotted with its bright orange roller intake.

I haven’t been able to find the videos that cover our first 4 matches. We started with 3 wins, followed by 1 loss

Q-87 –¬†

Both sides score 2 yellow cones in the 20 points zone for a draw in the autonomous period. Blue had 1 dead robot from the start of the match, and our partner didn’t do a huge amount of scoring. In a 2 vs. 1 situation, you would think the side with 2 active robots should have an easy win on their hands, however, that wasn’t the case here and blue out stacked/scored us beating us 107 to 89. We were sloppy and slow and blue deserved the win.

Q-105 –¬†

The autonomous round was crucial. We won the autonomous round by successfully scoring 2 cones in the 10 points zone while our partner scored 1 cone in the 5 point zone. Red, however, tipped their mobile goal spilling the 2 yellow cones into the 20 point zone. This means that they would be unable to place a goal into the 20 points at all.

You will see red building a moderately large stack early on, but their lift is very slow and it took them quite a long time to build it. We go on to build a large stack too and once that’s scored in the 10 point zone we play defense trying to prevent red from scoring any more goals. We came VERY close to accidentally tipping red’s stack in the 10 point zone – if we had tipped it over we could have been disqualified. In the dying seconds of the match red drop one of their own stacks, losing 8 cones, this costs them 21 points (2 for each of the yellow cones + an additional 5 points for the high stack bonus in that zone). If they hadn’t dropped that stack then they would have won the match.

We won 123 to 106. This put us at 5 wins and 1 loss

Q-121 –¬†

In this match, we are partnered with a local Kentucky team 6135W. These guys were really good, with a solid performing robot and a lot of practice under their belt. They went on to win the Design award in the division.

All 4 teams scored during autonomous – leading to a tie with no bonus points being awarded. We were slow to get going in the driver control phase, but we sped up building a decent stack and transferred 1/2 to the stationary goal to grab the 5 point bonus. Meanwhile blue spill a stack completely.¬† Then after building a second huge stack blue spill the lot when trying to place the goal down. At that point, we’d easily won the match with a convincing score of 120 to 59

We are clawing back from that 1 defeat – now at 5 wins 1 loss

Q-156 –¬†

This was a good win for us. Red dropped a stack early on and this probably cost them the match. No room for error at the world championships. The score was 114 to 99 for Free Range. 6 wins and 1 loss.


The event is finished

We are at the after party which is being held at Kentucky Kingdom

The kids are off enjoying themselves and the adults are just chilling.

Long sleep tonight then off to the airport to head home.

This team will treasure the memory of this competition for the rest of their lives.

Thank you for all your support

Thank you for following the team’s progress. I have tried to share as much as possible ensuring that you can feel close to what the team is experiencing even though you may be half a world away.

We are looking forward to coming home and sharing our personal stories with family and friends.

Signing off


Tournament champions

Congratulations to team 5225A for being crowned Vex Robotics high school world champions.

Free Range only lost 3 matches this week, 2 of those to the amazing tournament champions 5225A

Now to the after party and to analyse the new game Turning Point for this next season

The final

Of course it was going to be tough. Our opponent 5225A has been unbeaten all week and won worlds skills challenge

We put up a brave fight but lost to a better team

Final score 134 to 83

We finished second which was an absolutely amazing result.

Selection done

We have picked 8049Z aka Blank from Singapore as our alliance partner.

They have a record of 7 wins and 3 losses and are placed 22 in the division

They don’t have any big wins under their belt but should be a good complementary partner.

Lunch then into the sudden death knockout stage of the competition

We are match 8 after lunch.

8 and 2

A convincing win for Free Range in our 10th and last qualification match. It wasn’t the prettiest match for us but our opponents were never close to matching us.

Final score 118 to 68

Currently we are in #11 position which secures us a place in the quarter final play offs

We have alliance selection soon followed by lunch then straight into the quarter finals

What a thriller

Our toughest match yet but we lose by 10 points 92 to 102 to the division leader 5225A

They were good and out stacked us. We got a solid 2 cones in the 20 point zone for an auton win.

It was a fiercely fought match with very aggressive defense from both sides. Our partner was slower than we would have liked.

So that’s us 7-2 with 1 match to play still

Best we can manage in rankings would be #10 which will get us into the knockout stage

Day 3

So here we are at day 3.

We have our final 2 qualification matches this morning the first is against 5225A who currently lead our division and won the skills challenge title yesterday.

This is a tough match but they are beatable and if we execute on our strategy and our partner plays their part then we have a really good shot


Our opponent tomorrow morning isn’t just #1 rank in our division they have just won the world Skills challenge

Yup tomorrow morning is going to be a biggie

Our biggest challenge

Our first match tomorrow morning is against the divisional leaders 5235A who are currently ranked #1

Our alliance partner 7447B has 5 wins to their name and if they are to be believed one of their matches from today is getting replayed after they lost by 1 point and they had a 15 second disconnect from the field. So they could end up with 6 wins.

5225A’s partner also have 5 wins to their name.

It is certainly going to be an exciting matchup.


We have our final 2 matches tomorrow morning

Neither are easy and our partners have won only half of their matches

Then our opponent alliances have mixed results too.

One more match for today

Just about to kick off our last match of today. Our alliance partner is 359A aka Hawaiian Kids who have a record of 4-3

Our opponents have records of 5-2 and 1-6

We have had a good strategy meeting and looking to grab our 7th win.

Fingers crossed.

Tall stack

8223A from China just planted a very impressive 20 cone high stack.

2 American mum’s next to me showed their racist tendencies saying how it wasn’t fair that they come over here with robots they couldn’t have built themselves, how can American teams compete with that!!!

Tall stack

8223A from China just planted a very impressive 20 cone high stack.

2 American mum’s next to me showed their racist tendencies saying how it wasn’t fair that they come over here with robots they couldn’t have built themselves, how can American teams compete with that!!!

Tall stack

8223A from China just planted a very impressive 20 cone high stack.

2 American mum’s next to me showed their racist tendencies saying how it wasn’t fair that they come over here with robots they couldn’t have built themselves, how can American teams compete with that!!!

In a great position

Only 3 teams have a perfect record of 6-0 followed by 11 teams with a 5-1 record and that includes Free Range

We are in a fantastic place, with 2 more matches to run today.

The engineering judges came along and interviewed us with Lachlan taking the lead and William adding valuable insights – all aimed at differentiating from the competition in the judges eyes, showing what really innovative solutions we implemented in our design

Watching XD

Wow XD score a 15 high stack in the 10 zone during autonomous period

The other teams must look at that and think “damn, time to go home”

Btw XD are the Tauranga team competing in the University division – go New Zealand

Nailed it

A convincing win for Free Range with 2135W 129 to 59

It was a close match till blue toppled one of their stacks. There was no catching us after that.

5-1 for us now. That keeps us near the top of the table. Other teams will be paying close attention to us now for possible alliance selection tomorrow


Time to refuel, take a breather and then into the afternoon session.

Our next match has us paired with 6135W who are a very strong team. Together we should make a formidable alliance.

Here they are chatting in the queue waiting for their match.

We also had our judges interview today.

Lachlan started by asking what the judges backgrounds were. The answer…. software engineering… well that was all Lachlan needed to know and he launched into his really detailed explanation of all the cool stuff he’s done with our coding.

Fingers crossed that he impressed enough for a 2nd interview.

My heart is pounding

That was a big match – Q105

Red looked like they would match our 2 cones in the 20 point zone during auton but they tipped their mobile goal dropping the 2 yellow cones into the 20 point zone – that was a costly mistake, not only did we get the 10 bonus points it also stopped them scoring anything in the 20 point zone for the rest of the match

A mum next to me was cheering when red scored a big stack but we matched them plus some.

In the dying stages we tried to block them scoring another big stack but they got around us.

I was desperately trying to count cones from a distance but my eyesight isn’t good enough.

In the end our 10 point auton bonus and our stack in the 20 point zone gave us a valuable 30 points+ which helped us secure the win 123 to 106

It was an exhilarating match to watch and a vital win that puts us 4-1 and keeps us in contention

Match 5 coming up soon

We really need to win this match to remain in contention

Too teams are pulling away with 5-0 and 4-1

Losing a second match giving us record of 3-2 will push us outside of the top pack

On paper we have the same win/loss ratio (3-1)(2-2) vs (3-1)(2-2)

Wingus & Dingus

Congratulations to Wingus and Dingus for receiving an award this morning. I believe that it was for winning the virtual playfield competition. I’ll get more details and post that later